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Re: Request for information: Semantics of body parts

From:Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>
Date:Sunday, June 16, 2002, 8:42
On Sun, 16 Jun 2002 04:39, Tim May wrote:
> There is a widespread desire, in creating a conlang, to avoid simply > mirroring the semantics of one's L1. I have noticed a number of items > which lead me to suspect that the naming of parts of the body is one > area in which natlang semantics are particularly divergent. For > instance; > > I believe Japanese has no common word referring to a foot other than > _ashi_, "leg". Similarly Russian _ruka_ refers to the hand but also > includes the wrist and forearm. Japanese _kuchibiri_, "lips" refers > only to the reddish areas edging the mouth, and cannot refer to the > surrounding area as English _lips_ sometimes does. > > Similarly, the way in which these terms are applied to "equivalent" > body parts on other animals may vary - English has seperate words for > the nose of a human, the trunk of an elephant and the beak of a bird, > but _hana_ in Japanese means both nose and trunk, while _nos_ in > Russian and _burun_ in Turkish refer to both nose and beak. > > I'd be interested in hearing about similar differences from English > semantics in both conlangs and natlangs.
For a start, vala lakha has |shawi| for both "jaw" and "tooth", indicating as far as the Lakhabrech are concerned, the bone breaking/flesh eating function can't be separated. In relation to "English" semantics, one might also remember the semantics of "arse/ass" in one of Quentin Tarantino's movies, I just forget which one, "I'm going to get mediaeval on your ass". In this case, "arse/ass" applies to the whole body/person. English supports differing semantics, it would appear, depending on the social context Wesley Parish -- Mau e ki, "He aha te mea nui?" You ask, "What is the most important thing?" Maku e ki, "He tangata, he tangata, he tangata." I reply, "It is people, it is people, it is people."